Défenseurs Plus launches a call for state action in favor of women suffering acts of violence in the Carrefour-feuilles displaced persons camps
For several years, the State has been unable to carry out its sovereign functions, including security and defense of the territory. Défenseurs Plus is stunned by the violations of the right to life and the right to security enshrined in the International Charter of Human Rights and the Haitian Constitution of 1987. For three months, many people have left their homes in Carrefour-feuilles following numerous attacks by armed gangs in order to take refuge in makeshift camps. Some of these camps, which are in reality schools, have around twenty rooms each housing between 20 and 40 people including men, women and children.
During a visit to the Colbert Lochard National School camp, which is no different from other camps, Défenseurs Plus noted the vulnerability of people, particularly women and girls. Hygiene conditions are precarious; Food insecurity has been glaring in the camp since the displaced people no longer received aid from the World Food Program (WFP), about two months ago. Since then, many displaced people have struggled to find food; they do not have access to water or medical care; The rooms are impossible to access in the event of rain. These displaced people find themselves in a situation of systematic violations of their rights to housing, food, health, protection, among others. As a result, the testimonies collected are poignant: many displaced people suffer from infections and other illnesses linked to lack of hygiene. The children cannot continue to attend school, because their parents’ profitable activities have been paralyzed since the bandits’ attack on their home in Carrefour-feuilles.
The situation of women in the camps is even more worrying: the rooms cannot logically accommodate the number of people living there, which poses a problem despite the concern of some to live together: women, girls and the men all sleep in the same place. Many women say they sleep in fear of being sexually and physically assaulted. The feeling of insecurity continues to haunt them in the camps. However, they show resilience by claiming that they have nothing to complain about since they found somewhere to sleep to escape armed gangs. The bathrooms are open to everyone and have no doors. All the women and girls in the camp say they feel violated in their privacy. What’s worse, many men take the opportunity to watch them bathe while making inappropriate comments. They are exposed to denigration and unpleasant comments from men about their bodies. Verbal violence and negative comments in many cases lead to physical violence. In this sense, Défenseurs Plus collected testimonies from certain women in the accommodation camp affirming that a case of rape had been recorded without them knowing the follow-up relating to it.
Faced with this chaotic situation, Défenseurs Plus asks the Haitian State to respect national and international legal instruments protecting human dignity. The displaced must live in decent conditions, essential to their integrity and respect for their dignity.Défenseurs Plus demands that the competent authorities put in place concrete actions to improve the living conditions of displaced people in accommodation camps. The collective also demands from the State, in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of Forms of Violence against Women, concrete actions with a view to eradicating poor living conditions and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the country. It also calls for respect and application of international instruments for the protection of human rights in favor of all, without any discrimination.
Done in Port-au-Prince, November 25, 2023
Frimens D. DUVAL
Tel: +509 37 16 3526